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The Legal Services Tech Glossary

Automated Forms – The concept of automated forms is closely related to document assembly. Automated forms prompt users to enter information needed to complete a court form (such as name, birth date, name of children), then merge that information into the document.

A2J Author® Interface (Access to Justice) – A user friendly interface for automated form interviews which incorporates web standards for low-literacy users, including graphics, to create an easy to navigate interview. Many A2J Author® interviews are hosted on the TIG-funded LawHelpInteractive portal and function as the user interface that populates HotDocs® forms. The A2J interface is also used extensively for online intake.

App --Generally an application for a mobile phone or tablet that can be downloaded by the device owner to perform specific tasks. Several legal aid programs have developed mobile apps targeted to pro bono attorneys, legal aid advocates, and clients.

Document Assembly - The document assembly process automates the creation of common legal documents through the use of software that breaks down required information into a series of organized, logical questions. The software then converts users’ answers into electronic documents. (See HotDocs® below).

E-filing  - The electronic transmittal of of pleadings, briefs, and other documents related to a a court or administrative proceeding. E-filing can vary in method; some systems accept completed PDF documents while others utilize information transferred through XML files. Fully integrated e-filing imports user data into the court’s filing system, sometimes after affirmative approval by a court system worker. Some administrative agencies, including the Social Security Administration, also accept e-filing.

HotDocs®  - A commercial document assembly product from HotDocs Ltd. used to create online forms and pleadings. Once a form has been created and uploaded to the LawHelp Interactive web site ( , pro se users and program advocates can fill in the form by answering questions and entering the information requested. The software then combines the information and supplies a finished form that can be saved and printed.

ICAN! ® EIC – The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a refundable tax credit that reduces (or eliminates) the taxes that low-income people pay. ICAN! ®-EIC is free, web-based software designed to help low-income clients to claim the federal EITC.

Kiosk – In the legal services world, a kiosk is typically a booth providing users with computer-based legal information and other services. Effective kiosks utilize an interface easy enough for typical users to operate without training or documentation. Touch screen technology is a way of making kiosks easily accessible to legal services clients. Kiosks are generally used across courts and libraries to help those without lawyers access online legal education materials and create their own forms using LawHelp Interactive or other automated form products.

Mobile -- Mobile refers generally to services and applications accessible via mobiles devices, particularly smartphones, but also tablets and some portable media players and e-readers. These devices require different design considerations to accommodate the smaller screen size and the “on the go” nature of the interaction, but also provide exciting new opportunities to connect with clients, pro bono attorneys, and advocates.

LawHelp InteractiveLawHelp Interactive was developed to make implementing document assembly initiatives easier and less costly for legal aid organizations as well as pro bono and court-based access-to-justice programs. Participating programs use two software options to write the interviews/templates HotDocs Corporation's HotDocs Professional, and optionally the Center for Access to Justice and Technology's A2J Author, to create online forms and documents.

LiveHelp - This is an instant messaging application designed specifically to provide online assistance to users of a web site. The software enables the administrator of a web site to receive and respond to text communication from multiple users of the web site using standard instant messaging protocols, while mirroring what is being viewed by the person requesting assistance.

LSTech Email List - The national email list connects hundres of legal aid technologists, including IT staff, tech-savvy attorneys, legal aid managers, and funders. Please click here to sign up.

NTAP (Legal Services National Technology Assistance Project) – This project (part of the Northwest Justice Project) helps the poverty law community improve client services through effective use of technology. NTAP provides technology training, online information and assistance for free. NTAP manages LSNTAP.Org, the LSTech email list, and several other legal aid technology projects.

Statewide Websites - Funded originally by LSC, statewide websites are centralized website portals of legal information and resources for the low income public and the advocates who serve them. Usually a collaborative project of the state equal justice community, these sites are now available in all fifty states plus US territories. Statewide websites provide clients access to legal services and pro bono referral information as well as public legal education information and self-help materials. Statewide websites enable legal services programs to streamline their services, attract and retain volunteer lawyers, greatly enhance training and support for volunteers, and share important legal resources across geographic and jurisdictional boundaries while maintaining program control of their own materials.

TIG (Technology Initiative Grant) – These are grants funded by the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) to their field programs to encourage legal services programs to use technology in innovative ways to increase access, to improve service delivery, and to enhance their management and administration.

Video Conferencing – (also known as a videoteleconference) This is a set of interactive technologies that allow two or more locations/people to interact via two-way video and audio transmission simultaneously.

VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) - This is software that enables people to make telephone calls over the Internet.  Packets of voice data are sent over the Internet employing the same method used to transfer data packets.  In using VOIP, the user does not incur any additional charges for the phone call (for example long distance charges) beyond what they already pay for Internet connectivity.